Recollections from Cliff Hands
Arriving at HPCCD RE at almost 2100hrs on a Wednesday had to spend the night in the Guardroom and got bedding and a room space the next morning after a visit to see OC Admin and marched in by the Chief Clerk as if I was on a charge, was told I had missed the B3 course that had started on the Monday.
The next six weeks were spent sweeping leaves around the camp,even though there was a Civvy employed to do this, going to the Gym on a Thursday with a funny kind of paybook that you wrote out yourself for as much as you wanted providing you had the credits.
During this time some other members were arriving for the same course but most of them arrived just before the course started and escaped the leaf sweeping.
The B3 course was not what I or a few others expected (mainly classroom work with only a few hours in the sorting office). During this time visits to see Dennis (landlord) in the Railway a few nights a week and back up the hill for last one in the NAAFI before closing at 2230.
Others on the same course were, Carr Montgomery, Jez Hernandez, Larry Peacock, Johnny (Giz a Tap) Graham, Gus Meiklejohn and other names escape me, also a number of WRAC girls whose names I cannot remember (Sorry Ladies).
Once the B3 course was complete we were allocated sections and some were given postings straight away. I was allocated SO1 starting on the night shift, which was somewhat strange as I had never worked all night with the exception of the odd guard duty. It was a work hard, play hard environment, and play being finishing the shift and going to breakfast with a black face from the date stamp ink. I’m sure it happened to most of us.
I stayed on SO1 for about 18months and during that time I had an old record player and bought a great big speaker from Batty’s Removals linked the two together with a length of speaker wire and one Sunday night set it up just inside the NAFFI doors and blasted away with the stack of records I had. I repeated this again on the Wednesday night when the dancing started. This was a regular occurrence and I was pulled in front of Major Dunkeld to explain myself. He told me if there any hint of trouble it would be stopped. Later the PRI dug deep and bought a deck system and it was wired in properly, even if it was upstairs out of view and the discos even though we never had the flashing lights,just dancing in the dark.
There was a time when there was unsigned bands booked to perform in the NAAFI for a week but due to some trouble on the first night when an influx of Guardsmen turned up the remainder of the acts were cancelled as Major Dunkeld explained to me the next morning when I went in front of him with a black eye and bent nose.
After SO1, I was sent to HQ Admin on the Provost staff with Wally Moat and Geordie Baker (who only done the early shift so he could get a pint or two at lunch time). This became more leaf sweeping duties unless anyone was in the cells. Geordie finished his time and Wally went to work for the NAFFI. I was a Lance Corporal at the time and was doing the job of Provost Corporal working 0600 to 1800 with many visits to Major Dunkeld as escort for those on charges and a few escorts to Colchester until Paddy Simpson was given the job of Provost Corporal when another two staff were allocated. I remained on the Provost Staff for a further 18 months until I was posted to 3 Div Bulford where the focus was on fitness which was another eye opener.
Many happy times were had at Mill Hill by myself and I am sure by so many others. Sad to see the demolition of the whole place but must move on.